Just after winning first place in the 200 meter race at the New Balance Nationals on Sunday, June 19, in North Carolina, Woodlawn High School track star Jayla Kirkland had to get used to another new title: the second fastest female youth sprinter in the nation for 200 meters.
Kirkland’s time of 23.15 at the New Balance Nationals not only pushed her into the No. 2 national spot, but qualified her to try out for the 2016 Olympic trials later this summer in Oregon.
Before she can even think about Oregon, she’s focused on competing in the World Junior Trials in California. She leaves Thursday, June 23, for the California meet, where she’ll be competing against high school and college students. (An account has been set up at www,gofundme.com/GoJayla123 to help with her expenses.)
Alabama NewsCenter videographer Bruce Nix caught up with Jayla as she practiced earlier this month.
If she makes the U.S. Team at the World Junior Trials in California, she will fly to Poland in July to run in the 200 meter and 100 meter races for the World Junior Championship. It’s possible she could also compete on the World Junior Championship relay team.
In 2015, Jayla won bronze when she competed in Cali, Colombia, during the World Youth Championship, a different international competition. Currently, she’s the fastest female youth sprinter in Alabama. She has 16 state track titles and four national titles. She is a senior at Woodlawn High, where she’s in the Academy of Business and Finance.
“Jayla is a stronger runner this year than she was last year,’’ said Myra Hawkins, her coach. “She will always surprise you. She’s determined and very focused.”
Last year, Jayla won first place in the 100 meter and 200 meter races during the New Balance Nationals in Greensboro, N.C. This year, she placed third in the 100 meters, despite a hamstring injury from earlier in the season, and first in the 200 meters.